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Duquesne school/community night focuses on new technology

| Friday, June 6, 2014, 2:16 a.m.
Photo courtesy of Duquesne City School District
Duquesne City School District behavior specialist Eric Harper shows a survey available to parents gauging interest and involvement in education and technology.

New technology for students was the focus of Duquesne City School District's Solutions Night on Thursday.

Parents and their children learned about technology that will be available for the approximately 350 kindergartners through sixth-graders next school year.

The district purchased an iPad cart with 20 iPads, and materials to improve its English and math curricula.

The iPads will remain at the school and are not for students to take home.

Assistant to the Superintendent Stan Whiteman said the district does not have enough iPads to give to every student, but the devices will be very useful tools.

“Two plus two is still four,” Whiteman said. “It's going to be that way. That part of education hasn't changed, but the way education has evolved is how we get to that answer.”

Every classroom will have upgraded projectors with Apple TVs.

“All school districts and our children are advancing and evolving in technology,” district behavior specialist Eric Harper said. “We have to keep (our students) up to date and make sure our kids are going to be able to compete out here in this world for jobs and compete academically. When our kids leave, they're going to (either) West Mifflin or East Allegheny (school districts). So we don't want them to lose a step.”

“It's kind of unfair because I'm in sixth grade and won't be here much (longer),” Amnia'sha Zanders, 12, said. “For my little sister (Shautay'e McKoy, 10), I think she will learn faster and my niece will learn better.”

Amnia'sha and Shautay'e's stepfather, Sean Powell, was pleased to learn the school will put such technology to use.

“A lot of people at home can't afford (iPads), so good for (the district) to get them in school,” Powell said. “It's going to be a great thing toward the future because books will be obsolete soon. Everybody's going to be going to the Pads. If you go to church, people pull out Nooks and stuff. I'm like, ‘What happened to the old Bible?' The times are changing.”

Whiteman showed a brief video about the trail of data left behind by users of digital services.

“It's all about protecting yourself,” Whiteman explained. “Anything you put out there digitally stays out there for life.”

Harmony Tillman, who is 6 years old, will enter first grade next school year.

She said she likes her school and is excited to use the new technology to play games.

Surveys were provided to parents to gauge their interest and involvement in education, as well as provide feedback on various topics.

“We have to bridge the relationship between the community and school,” Harper said. “Right now the hot topic is our technology ... If parents want more information on healthy lifestyles, I'll bring that in. It's really parent/community driven.”

The Pittsburgh Penguin Foundation provided 20 Kindle Fire devices this year.

Additional information provided at Thursday's event included documents from Bank On Greater Pittsburgh, UPMC Cancer Center and Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.

Another Solution Night is planned for August, before classes begin.

More information will be sent to parents and posted on the district's Facebook page.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or